A 47-year-old man is in police custody after his seven dogs fatally attacked a 71-year-old man in Fresno, Texas, last week, police said.
Police arrested and charged Samuel Cartwright with attack by dog resulting in death — a second-degree felony in Texas — after his pit bull mixes allegedly mauled Freddy Garcia in an unprovoked attack July 18 as Garcia walked to a neighborhood store in Fresno, an unincorporated community about 20 miles south of Houston, at about 1:30 p.m., the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook.
Emergency responders transported Garcia by helicopter to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in downtown Houston, where he was later pronounced dead, the sheriff's office said at a news conference last week.
A subsequent investigation conducted by the sheriff's office, Fort Bend Animal Control and the Fort Bend County district attorney's office identified Cartwright as the owner of the dogs; sheriff's deputies and animal control officers had captured all seven by Tuesday, according to the sheriff's office.
Cartwright is in the Fort Bend County Jail on bond of $100,000.
"This devastating tragedy didn’t have to happen," Sheriff Eric Fagan said in a statement. "I extend my deepest condolences to the Garcia family and his neighbors as they adjust to the loss of Mr. Garcia."
Garcia's family members described him to KTRK-TV of Houston as "youthful, "full of life" and "really joyful," adding that he loved to dance and sing.
Officials urged residents to take responsibility for their dogs.
"If you have a dangerous dog, it is your responsibility to keep that dog secure, to keep the members in our community safe," District Attorney Brian Middleton said at a news conference last week.
"I can tell you, as district attorney, if you fail to do that, you will be held accountable," Middleton said, pointing to a 2007 Texas law that holds a dog owner responsible for an attack if he or she acts with "criminal negligence" by failing to secure the dog or "knows the dog is a dangerous dog."
Under the law, Cartwright could face two to 20 years in prison and fined $10,000, Middleton said at the news conference.
"If you own an animal that you know could, may possibly, bite, please — the law states the animal should be either on a leash, the animal should be within the fence. It's about having physical control," Rene Vasquez, director of Fort Bend County Animal Services, said at the news conference.